Archive for September, 2009

Time for a break

We have been here about a month and I think for me at least, I’m hitting that period where it stops feeling like a holiday/novelty and begins to sink in that this is home for two years. The routine of work is becoming set and the attractions of the Seychelles becoming more routine. Like living in London, it’s too easy to forget what you have on your doorstep and to take advantage of it. So I decide that after first payday we should take ourselves off for the weekend to expand our Seychellois horizons. I settle on the island of La Digue which I know is easy to get to and so small that you can cycle round, its pace is slow, so right up our street I reckon. ..

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It wouldn’t happen in the UK would it?

No hanging bodywork. Thumb and car to scale

No hanging bodywork. Thumb and car to scale

Colleagues, perhaps disturbed by how quickly my cheery gallant response to car enquiries has been usurped by grumbling tin-pot car rants, suggested calling the owner about the problems experienced. Really? I wasn’t too sure given that we had bought it and all, however when I spoke with the other one I told him it was a great idea. Given that he was almost best buds with the guy after going to the licensing place together; wouldn’t it also make sense if he called him and have a conversation ‘man to man’? The other one agreed. In full knowledge of my thinly disguised buck passing. That’s partnership.

He called.

The man said he would come and see the car.

He came three hours later.

He took it away.

He brought it back two hours later. Bodywork fixed. No questions (or money asked).

Would that happen in the UK?

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You have got to be kidding

 The car wasn’t turning over this morning.

Our neighbour woke her husband to see if he had any jump leads (it seems an essential bit of kit here). He didn’t.

The other one tried again. It worked.

Not a religious sort but wondering if there is a god or saint of cars. It might be worth the investment.

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Car owner spotted

The son of the guy who sold us our car appears to work at the Pirates Arms as he said hello and asked how the car was. Foolish boy.  I explained about the bodywork, well at least I think I did. He looked quite confused. Being Mancunian (i.e. from Manchester, England, great city but usual city problems and rogues) my urban antennae quivered with suspicion but the other one was more trusting. Disliking confrontation and being far too polite than is often necessary the whole exchange came to a pointless end. More crushingly, I don’t expect free beers on the house any time soon. Dammit.

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Hang on I don’t remember that…

Twenty four hours in and I get out of the passenger door, close it and as doing so the body work over the mudguard and the wheel comes off.

I kick it. It goes back in again (at least that’s something).

People ask how the car is, I try for the gallant cheery response ‘it’s ok, for our budget it seems fine though there is a slight problem with the door, I have to kick the bodywork into place each time I close it , ha, ha’.

Inwardly, I’m not laughing.

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Step forward our car

So I called the man about the car. It hadn’t yet made its way to the garage and our money hadn’t yet made its way to our account (see money transfers). So that was ok. I called again and this time our about to be car (subject to the repairs made) was delivered back to the school for our expert’s scrutiny – and the other one’s as he hadn’t seen the car being otherwise employed. Luckily, he approved.

Our eagle eyed expert noticed that one tyre hadn’t been changed so back it went with a next day appointment made for exchange. This was done and we found ourselves the owners of a 7 year old, £5k priced, Daihatsu Charade. I’d say proud but I don’t think that quite covers the emotion felt. Still it meant we could say goodbye to our rental car and its battery problems and hello to our new car and…

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As in clouds, as in the weather forecast today. What a great word. Drop that into conversation this weekend (if you can say it, I can’t).

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Money transfers

One option to help finance the car was to get a loan from our bank in the Seychelles. We considered this until the 28% interest rate was revealed. Ditto that on the overdraft facility. That’s why I decided to raid a poor relative’s funeral expenses stash instead (see funereally expensive cars). As online banking is only available to Barclay’s offshore account holders (give the MBA some time) we have to do a SWIFT transfer instead. Depending on who you talk to this could be construed as an oxymoron but we were lucky, the money arrived about a week after completing the forms (two days UK end, the weekend, two days to clear here). So far, so good.

Except we appear to be about £200 quid short.

A Stan Laurel scratch of the head (the other one just demonstrated this rather well, rather scarily) and then the dawning… Having cunningly thwarted the bank’s preposterous interest rates they got their own back by converting pounds to rupees at some rubbish rate with us losing about a rupee and a half on each pound. My relative unfortunately not providing for a lavish funeral (and clearly not going to get one now) the credit card came out…

Still we were more fortunate than a colleague. Their car money took several days to clear in their Seychelles account just while the value of the pound was falling daily and the rupee appreciating. Not that I’m suggesting any connection at all.


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Eggs citing car news

Having sent the first Charade off, the experts very kindly checked out another older and cheaper version. Living life on the edge, this too was subject to the same egg tapping test, surviving unscathed (cheer). Having been taken for a spin, my experts engaged in a lively chat in Creole, identifying a few things to be fixed (boo), namely a couple of new tyres, oil leak and battery clean. They also negotiated the price down to 95,000 rupees (cheer) just under our budget. It was agreed. They would get the car spruced up (cheer), we would arrange for the money transfer from the UK…oh yes (boo).

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The ‘egg tapping’ school of car purchasing

Having gradually come to terms with how much a car costs, the next task has been to actually buy one. Most people seem to check the main daily paper ‘The Nation’ or know someone who knows someone who knows someone. We were told that a couple of people at the school could examine any vehicle we were interested in, which given the reputation we are slowly developing, is a very good thing. Most vehicles either seem ridiculously expensive
(200,000 rupees/£20K plus) or complete sheds (less than 70,000 rupees/£3k). Toyota, Honda and Daihatsu dominate with hardly any European made cars – surprised?!

I messed up with one prospective seller, dealing as you do in thousands of rupees, I didn’t do my maths, there can’t be that much difference between 100,000 and 155,000 rupees can there? Well yes, over £2k actually. Realising my mistake, I left a message to cancel the viewing only to set it back up again thinking I was speaking to the owner of another car selling the same model but much cheaper. How to make a mistake even worse – hurrah! Too polite to put them off again, on their arrival, the ‘experts’ were deployed, who proceeded to open, bang and rock things. At this point it should be noted that the only car we seem able to afford is the infamous Daihatsu Charade. And they were rocking it.

Rocking it is probably the equivalent of vigorously tapping an egg on your forehead and hoping it doesn’t crack.

But as I had no intention of buying it, I didn’t worry.

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